Welcoming Change

Oct. 4, 2006
GE Ranger Mark L. Archipolo looks forward to the technological changes that are making this Jack-of-all-trades' professional life that much easier.

Q: How did you get started in ground aerospace equipment?

A: I enlisted in the Air Force on Sept 27, 1995 in San Antonio, TX. After six weeks of basic military training at Lackland AFB, TX, I was sent to Sheppard AFB for five months of technical training school to become an Aerospace Ground Equipment (AGE) apprentice. My first duty station was at Little Rock AFB, AR where after 15 months of on-the-job training (OJT) I was upgraded to a journeyman. As a journeyman I was still learning the job—training on our equipment never ends—and a few years later I was upgraded to a craftsman. As a craftsman I supervised most of the apprentices and journeyman and shared my knowledge of the equipment.

Q: What changes have you seen in the USAF's AGE?

A: Since I have been in the Air Force, I have noticed that we are starting to do more with less. The equipment is getting more technological and it requires less maintenance. We still have to perform periodic inspections and preventative maintenance, but the equipment doesn't break as much and is easier to fix. There are more solid state devices being used which means less moving parts to break. We are also a smarter force; more people are getting degrees and furthering their education.

Q: What was the biggest challenge you faced over the years in the industry?

A: One of the biggest challenges I have faced in the military is being deployed and preparing for deployments. All the training we do day-to-day helps prepare us, but I have been on several deployments where I was the only AGE mechanic at the location. I had to rely solely on my training to make sure the equipment was available for the aircraft to complete their missions. It is very rewarding knowing that you have a part in the missions that are completed and people get the support they need.

Q: What do you most appreciate about working in this industry?

A: Everyday is something new. We work on a variety of different equipment and it helps keep the job interesting. In most jobs you work nine-to-five and do basically the same thing all day long, but with my job I might get to work on a generator one day and an air conditioner the next. It is like the old saying, "Jack of all trades, master of none." There are some people that are good at a few things, but you have to know how to work on everything to make it in this career field and stay competitive.

Q: What changes would you like to see in AGE's future?

A: I would like to see a more integrated resource system that uses the technology to make our jobs easier. For example, we use technical orders (TO's) to fix and inspect our equipment. If they were put onto PDA's for easier access, we wouldn't have to carry around several different books to do one job. We would be able to do our job more efficiently and save the Air Force money.

Q: Are there any nuggets of wisdom you would like to pass on to our readers?

A: Don't let your ignorance of technology become a fear of change. Embrace the new technology. Most people shy away from trying anything new because of the fear of the unknown, but with the new advances in technology it will make our jobs easier.